Textron announced the successful first flight and maritime integration of the Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) on a U.S. Navy Guided Missile Destroyer (DDG).
Back in September 2021, the U.S. Navy awarded Textron Systems a multi-year Aerosonde task order to use the aircraft to conduct maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services aboard two destroyers. Textron responded with Aerosonde SUAS.
Last month, the first Aerosonde for the Navy’s DDGs took flight using an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. The Aerosonde platform offers multi-mission capability and, with over 550,000 flight hours, has proven reliability and performance. It is integrated into the ship’s combat systems and equipped to deliver day/night full-motion video, wide-area surveillance, communications relay, signals intelligence, and more.
The Aerosonde UAS is small enough to fit in tight spaces. It comes with a wingspan of just 12 ft (3.7 meters), weighs 80 pounds (36 kg), has a range of up to 140 km (75 nm), an endurance of over 14 hours, and can hold a payload of up to 20 pounds (9 kg). The platform is powered by a heavy fuel engine and is capable of point takeoff and landing, minimizing the impact on the ship‘s operations.
“This flight for Aerosonde represents the expansion of the platform’s real-world maritime mission. Already operating on the expeditionary sea base ship USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4), we are excited to see Unmanned Systems contribute to the Navy’s critical missions across the globe,” says Wayne Prender, Senior Vice President of Air Systems.
“The system’s long-endurance capabilities make it an ideal platform for maritime ISR operations; search and rescue; and many other missions providing the U.S. Navy with enhanced real-time situational awareness at any time, anywhere.”